Feldman hit hard as Astros drop finale
Right-hander gives up nine runs on 11 hits, including two home runs
HOUSTON -- Scott Feldman has a reputation for being a ground-ball pitcher. In Houston this year, Feldman has lived up to that status. Yet when he plays Baltimore, there's something different in the air -- a fly ball.
Manny Machado's sixth-inning grand slam was the fifth home run against Feldman this year, sending the Orioles past the Astros, 9-4, on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"The ball was up in the zone," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It's uncharacteristic. Scotty's more of a ground-ball pitcher, and he had the ball elevated a little bit more than usual."
Chris Davis got Baltimore started in the sixth inning by hitting a slow ground ball down the third-base line to beat an Astros shift leaving the spot open. Two singles, a sacrifice fly and an intentional walk later, Machado came up and sent the ball flying off advertisements over the left-field porch for his first career grand slam.
"Really the whole game, I was just battling and laboring quite a bit, but I was able to limit the damage," Feldman said. "That inning, it just got away from me."
Baltimore has hit four of the five home runs against Feldman in his nine starts this year.
On May 9 against his former team in Baltimore, in his fifth start of the season, the Orioles did something unusual against Feldman: They hit two home runs, both coming in the third inning of the Astros' 4-3 loss. Feldman had not allowed a homer through his first four starts of the season.
In the second inning Sunday, Feldman (3-3) gave up a two-run shot to David Lough. That was home run No. 4 against Feldman and the Orioles' third against him. The blast to right field was Lough's first of the season after 98 homerless plate appearances.
"I think we caught Scott Feldman on a little lesser day, but we'll take it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We strung together some good at-bats."
Baltimore smacked 11 hits for nine runs in 5 1/3 innings off Feldman, putting the game away with a six-run sixth. Feldman was trying to pitch the O's inside and hit two batters because of it, including Nelson Cruz, Feldman's former teammate and the Major League's leader in RBIs (52) and home runs (20). Cruz left the game, and his X-rays came back negative. He's listed as day to day with a left hand contusion.
"I didn't want to hit him," Feldman said. "I checked after the game to make sure he was all right, and they said it was a bruise. That was a little relieving."
Feldman went on the 15-day disabled list in April with biceps tendinitis and has been inconsistent since rejoining the club. Through his five starts since returning -- the first of which was that May 9 start against Baltimore -- Feldman's thrown 26 1/3 innings and allowed 20 runs, with almost half coming on Sunday.
His ERA before going to the DL: 1.69 in four starts. His ERA since returning: 6.84.
"It's not a concern," Porter said of Feldman's health. "He's a pitch-to-contact guy, so there's nothing with the radar gun that would tell us anything otherwise."
The Astros' bats stayed mostly quiet, striking in the fourth inning when George Springer, who was hitless in his previous nine at-bats after going on an 11-game hit streak, hit a double to deep-right field to spark Houston's offense. Springer advanced to third on a Matt Dominguez flyout to center and scored on a Chris Carter single. Springer finished 2-for-5 on the day, raising his batting average to .259.
Dominguez, whose flyout in the fourth went to the warning track in deep center, blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning, his eighth of the year.
"I saw the ball well today," Dominguez said. "Been feeling good for a while."
Wei-Yin Chen (6-2) was responsible for stifling Houston's offense, giving up four hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings.
"He attacked the zone with his fastball," Porter said. You look at the number of fastballs that we fouled off, the number of fastballs that we took in the strike zone. We had our opportunities, and we had pitches to hit and we just didn't hit the ball."
Strong starting pitching and late Springer heroics led Houston to back-to-back wins to open the four-game series, but the Astros' bats cooled off in the final two games. After Houston won its seventh consecutive game on Friday, it finished the set against the O's by dropping two in a row.
The Astros have their first off-day Monday after 17 consecutive games in which they went 10-7. They spent much of that stretch on the road, too, as 10 of the games were played away from Minute Maid Park.
The Astros resume play on Tuesday against the Angels in Houston.
"The off-day is coming at a good time," Porter said. "We'll show back up on Tuesday ready to play."